Barnet UNISON initial response to Ofsted report for Family Services

It is really disappointing and disturbing to read this damming Ofsted report.

I have been working in the London Borough of Barnet for 22 years.

I have a long history of knowledge of our social services.

Back in 2008 our Council celebrated being a five star Council. They actually hung the stars from the high ceiling in our Atrium (posh for staff canteen).

At this time we did not have any serious issues in social work. Barnet had a good reputation for social work and had no reliance on agency workers.

In May 2008 something changed.

The Council announced a major policy change called Future Shape later to be known as “easyCouncil” then “One Barnet” and finally “Commissioning Council.”

Barnet UNISON quickly recognised this change as mass outsourcing ideology.

Barnet UNISON has written much on what has transpired over almost a decade of ideological obsession with mass outsourcing.

For this press release it is not the outsourced contractors that we are focussing on, but the impact on those remaining Council services, in this case Family Services.

Over the past decade to ensure delivery of the outsourcing programme the senior management had to change.

I watched as managers who were good at delivery were replaced by strategic managers. Often they were replaced by interims who would later become permanent. The Council then looked to consultants to prepare services for outsourcing. This led some to argue the Council was becoming “consultant dependent.”

Corporate knowledge was not seen as a positive.

What has happened in Family Services is, in my opinion, a long time coming.

This is why I would say to those looking for heads to roll, to reflect on those architects that have long since left.

Where is the accountability for those who have left and those who took their eye off the ball?

What needs to happen now? Barnet UNISON has already begun discussions with our members in Family Services and the Council.

We want to make Barnet a safe place to work which will translate into better services for children.

This means a change and recognition that staff and UNISON need to be fully involved in changes in Family Services.

There must be no repeat of past mistakes.

Barnet Council must listen to the workforce and their representatives.

The life of the child must and always be at the heart of Family Services.

To achieve this you need a highly motivated skilled workforce that is well supported.

The next 12 months are going to be critical and Barnet UNISON is going to make sure we are there for our members and those children who need Family Services.”

(John Burgess Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON).


1. OFSTED inspection findings

2. Inspectors rap ‘inadequate’ Barnet Council children’s services

3. Barnet children’s services condemned as inadequate by Ofsted: ‘Serious failings put young at risk of harm’


Farewell Bob – RIP

Last week our branch was contacted by members working at Flower Lane Autism Service to say that Bob had passed away in his sleep at the weekend.

I have known Bob for over 20 years he was one of the first UNISON reps I worked with in the old Barnet Social Services department back in the day.

Bob was much loved by his work colleagues and the service users. He was deeply compassionate man who loved his work and the trade union his energy and enthusiasm was infectious. I had the opportunity to witness Bob dealing with very senior managers about serious matters affecting members and I always believed that they found it hard to say no to him. He had that way about him.

Bod was always on hand to take up case work for UNISON members in distress, he didn’t like to see anyone in distress or being bullied he very much wore his heart on his sleeve.

Bob understood the importance of solidarity. He was directly involved in the two big outsourcing fights we had between 1997-2002 over residential and day services for older people and Home Care services. But it was his determination to stop the outsourcing of Learning Difficulties a year later that showed his true grit. This fight went on for over a year and eventually after all the effort the Council decided to keep the services in house. I don’t know if members really understood what Bob did during that time, but I was both honoured and impressed to have worked alongside him.

Over the years I saw less of Bob, but when I did it was if it was only yesterday we had last spoke. I could still see the passion for the job (even though he had retired he came back as an As & When) in his eyes.

I have recently spoken to a few staff who have worked alongside Bob and I understand that this news has really taken everyone one by surprise.

Bob Allan will always be associated with Flower Lane.

He will be sorely missed by staff service users and their carer’s as a kind generous man who gave everything he had to help others.

I am proud to have known Bob, solidarity Bob, Unison member and comrade.

Bob Allan RIP

Barnet UNISON Nursery Nurse reps feedback on their successful claim

“Barnet Nursery Nurses won their appeal! This would not have happened without the support and dedication of John Burgess and Unison. Thank you from us all.”

Beverley (UNISON Nursery Nurse rep).


“Barnet unison remained resolute in their commitment throughout this appeal. Showing the importance of working together to ensure ever member has a voice, this was paramount to secure this momenta’s positive conclusion for Barnet Nursery Nurses.”

Elaine Thompson Unison Nursery Nurse Rep.

“Unison has provided steadfast support to the nursery nurses since as far back as 2009. John Burgess in particular advised and guided the three nursery teams that went through the federation process, resulting in a much better staffing structure than had originally been offered.

Throughout every occurrence Unison has kept their members informed and updated so much so that when Unified pay come over the horizon we all had every confidence that our best interests were at the heart of any negotiations they were involved in.  The confidence and determination/ tenacity shown by the Unison team was infectious and made us all the more determined to at least have our say.

Knowing John Burgess had championed others and been successful gave us hope and spurred us on to do our homework, galvanise as workers and put our case to the powers that be. Happily we were successful and I’m sure that with Unison on your side any workers have a fighting chance. Good luck comrades!”
Ruth Kevin (UNISON rep)


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